When the body is injured, its normal, protective response is inflammation. Initially inflammation protects the injured area from further damage by cushioning the injured area or keeping harmful irritants or pathogens out of injury. However, once inflammation becomes chronic or acute, debilitating pain can set in. Long-term inflammation no longer protects the injured area but results in the destruction of healing tissue.

Boswellia serrata, also known as Indian frankincense, can help treat this inflammation.

It can limit the damage and pain that can result from chronic conditions that produce pain and swelling. Boswellia serrata is an herbal extract taken from the tree of the same name. It has been used for centuries in Asian Ayurvedic medicine. The treatment can be taken as a pill or utilized as a cream or resin to the affected area.

So how does it work? There are four different acids in boswellia serrata that give it its anti-inflammatory properties. Several recent studies on boswellia serrata’s effects on rheumatoid and osteoarthritis (RA and OA, respectively) showed a decrease in pain and swelling in the affected areas, along with some repair to damaged cartilage in affected joints.

Initial studies have also shown that boswellia serrata helps reduce leukotrienes, an inflammatory mediator that cause bronchial muscles to contract. Boswellia serrata has also been shown to act in ways that suppress the spread of some cancer cells, including breast, brain, pancreatic, and leukemia. Boswellia serrata has also had some application and success in the treatment of irritable bowel conditions, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

It is important to note that pregnant women should not utilize this treatment.

Boswellia serrata is an abortificient and an emmenagogue that can bring on menses. As always, when starting a new treatment, talk with your doctor about potential side effects and interactions with any medicines or supplements you may already be taking.

Boswellia serrata is a promising anti-inflammatory that may be another way to combat chronic pain. Its uses are varied and go beyond that, however, and are worth exploring further.

Tell us: when you have an injury that causes swelling and inflammation, what do you do to fight back?

Image by J.M.Garg via Wikimedia


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